Hue SDK Documentation

Introduction and Overview

Hue leverages the browser to provide users with an environment for exploring and analyzing data.

Build on top of the Hue SDK to enable your application to interact efficiently with Hadoop and the other Hue services.

By building on top of Hue SDK, you get, out of the box:

This document will orient you with the general structure of Hue and will walk you through adding a new application using the SDK.

From 30,000 feet

From up on high

Hue, as a "container" web application, sits in between your Hadoop installation and the browser. It hosts all the Hue Apps, including the built-in ones, and ones that you may write yourself.

The Hue Server

Web Back-end

Hue is a web application built on the Django python web framework. Django, running on the WSGI container/web server (typically CherryPy), manages the url dispatch, executes application logic code, and puts together the views from their templates. Django uses a database (typically sqlite) to manage session data, and Hue applications can use it as well for their "models". (For example, the JobDesigner application stores job designs in the database.)

In addition to the web server, some Hue applications run daemon processes "on the side". For example, Beeswax runs a daemon ("beeswax_server") that keeps track of query states. Running a separate process for applications is the preferred way to manage long-running tasks that you may wish to co-exist with web page rendering. The web "views" typically communicate with these side daemons by using Thrift (e.g., for Beeswax query execution) or by exchanging state through the database.

Interacting with Hadoop

Interacting with Hadoop

Hue provides some APIs for interacting with Hadoop. Most noticeably, there are python file-object-like APIs for interacting with HDFS. These APIs work by making REST API or Thrift calls the Hadoop daemons. The Hadoop administrator must enable these interfaces from Hadoop.

On the Front-End

Hue provides a front-end framework based on Bootstrap and jQuery.

If you are used to the Hue 1.x front-end, this is a major difference. All application pages are full screen requests from the browser. The HTML generated by your application's template is directly rendered. You do not need to worry about interference from another application. And you have more freedom to customize the front-end behavior of your application.

An Architectural View


A Hue application may span three tiers: (1) the UI and user interaction in the client's browser, (2) the core application logic in the Hue web server, and (3) external services with which applications may interact.

The absolute minimum that you must implement (besides boilerplate), is a "Django view" function that processes the request and the associated template to render the response into HTML.

Many apps will evolve to have a bit of custom JavaScript and CSS styles. Apps that need to talk to an external service will pull in the code necessary to talk to that service.



Developing for the Hue SDK has similar requirements to running Hue itself. We require python (2.6 to 2.7), Django (1.4 included with our distribution), Hadoop (Apache Hadoop 1.2+), Java (Sun Java 1.7), and Browser (latest Chrome, Firefox or IE9+).

The following are core technologies used inside of Hue.

Fast-Guide to Creating a New Hue Application

Now that we have a high-level overview of what's going on, let's go ahead and create a new installation.

Download, Unpack, Build Distro

The Hue SDK is available from Github. Releases can be found on the download page. Releases are missing a few dependencies that could not be included because of licencing issues (e.g. the werkzeug module). So if you prefer to have an environment ready from scratch, it is preferable to checkout a particular release tag instead.

$ cd hue
## Build
$ make apps
## Run
$ build/env/bin/hue runserver_plus
$ build/env/bin/hue beeswax_server
## Alternative run
$ build/env/bin/hue supervisor
## Visit http://localhost:8000/ with your web browser.
Why runserver_plus? runserver_plus enables the Werkzeug debugger, which is very handy.

Run "create_desktop_app" to Set up a New Source Tree

$ ./build/env/bin/hue create_desktop_app calculator
$ find calculator -type f
calculator/                                 # distutils setup file
calculator/src/calculator/               # main src module
calculator/src/calculator/               # app metadata setting
calculator/src/calculator/                   # url mapping
calculator/src/calculator/                  # app business logic

# Static resources
calculator/src/calculator/static/art/calculator.png # logo

Install SDK Application

As you'll discover if you look at calculator's, Hue uses a distutils entrypoint to register applications. By installing the calculator package into Hue's python virtual environment, you'll install a new app. The "" tool manages the applications that are installed. Note that in the following example, the value after the "--install" option is the path to the root directory of the application you want to install. In this example, it is a relative path to "/Users/philip/src/hue/calculator".

    $ ./build/env/bin/python tools/app_reg/ --install calculator --relative-paths
    === Installing app at calculator
    Updating registry with calculator (version 0.1)
    --- Making egg-info for calculator
If you'd like to customize the build process, you can modify (or even complete rewrite) your own `Makefile`, as long as it supports the set of required targets. Please see `Makefile.sdk` for the required targets and their semantics.

Congrats, you've added a new app!

What was that all about? virtualenv is a way to isolate python environments in your system, and isolate incompatible versions of dependencies. Hue uses the system python, and that's about all. It installs its own versions of dependencies. Entry Points are a way for packages to optionally hook up with other packages.

You can now browse the new application.

# If you haven't killed the old process, do so now.
$ build/env/bin/hue runserver_plus

And then visit http://localhost:8000/ to check it out! You should see the app (with a boring "SDK" icon) in the dock, and clicking it will bring up a boring screen:

Customizing Views and Templates

Now that your app has been installed, you'll want to customize it. As you may have guessed, we're going to build a small calculator application. Edit calculator/src/calculator/templates/index.mako to include a simple form:

<%!from desktop.views import commonheader, commonfooter %>
<%namespace name="shared" file="shared_components.mako" />

${commonheader("Calculator", "calculator", user, "100px") | n,unicode}

## Main body

<div class="container-fluid">
  % if op:
  <span>${a} ${op} ${b} = ${result}</span>
  % endif
  <form action=${url("calculator.views.index")} method=POST>
    <input name="a">
    <input type="radio" name="op" value="add">+</input>
    <input type="radio" name="op" value="subtract">-</input>
    <input type="radio" name="op" value="multiply">*</input>
    <input type="radio" name="op" value="divide">/</input>
    <input name="b">
    <input type="submit" value="Calculate">
${commonfooter(messages) | n,unicode}

The template language here is Mako, which is flexible and powerful. If you use the ".html" extension, Hue will render your page using Django templates instead.

Note that we used the url() function to generate the URL to the calculator view. This trick protects you a bit from changing URLs.

Let's edit calculator/src/calculator/ to process that form:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from desktop.lib.django_util import render
import operator

OPS=dict(add=operator.add, subtract=operator.sub, multiply=operator.mul, divide=operator.truediv)
OP_STRING=dict(add="+", subtract="-", multiply="*", divide="/")

def index(request):
  if "op" not in request.REQUEST:
    return render('index.mako', request, dict())
  a = float(request.REQUEST["a"])
  b = float(request.REQUEST["b"])
  op = request.REQUEST["op"]
  result = OPS[op](a, b)
  return render('index.mako', request,
    dict(a=a, b=b, op=OP_STRING[op], result=result))

For more complicated forms, you may want to use Django Forms and avoid explicitly using request.REQUEST, but this is shorter.

You can now go and try the calculator. If you set everything up right, you should see something like:

Debugging Django

If you enter a number only in the first text box and hit "Calculate", you'll hit an error. If you're using runserver_plus, you'll get a handy debugging page. You can click on any stack frame to get a debugging console:

Great! Now that we've added a single application, we're going to delve further into the back-end.

Integrate external Web applications in any language

Use the create_proxy_app command

A Look at Three Existing Apps



The Help application is as minimal as they get. Take a look at it! The core logic is in the "" file. The central function there takes (app, path) (which are mapped from the request URL by the regular expression in The view function finds the data file that needs to be rendered, renders it through the markdown module, if necessary, and then displays it through a simple template.

You'll note that the "Help Index" is presented in a "split view". No JavaScript was written to make this happen! Instead, the template applied certain CSS classes to the relevant div's, and JFrame did the rest.



You need to have Hue running:

$ ./build/env/bin/hue runserver

Then if you want to access localhost/50030/jobtracker.jsp you just do:

and the page will be displayed within Hue.

You can configure it in desktop/conf/pseudo-distributed.ini

#Comma-separated list of regular expressions, which match 'host:port' of requested proxy target.

#Comma-separated list of regular expressions, which match any prefix of 'host:port/path' of requested proxy target.
# This does not support matching GET parameters.


You can create a new app (or modify a current one for testing).

Then in order to display the proxied page in your app, you could add in the template of a view of the new app a snippet of Javacript similar to this for loading the JobTracker page:

    $.get('/proxy/localhost/50030/jobtracker.jsp', function(data) { $('#proxy-body').html(data); alert('Load was performed.'); });

or alternatively get the page in the view (better solution) with the Hue REST API. Example of use of this API can be found in the HDFS lib.

If you need to browse through the proxied page, using an iframe might be a better solution.


Beeswax is on the opposite end of the complexity scale from Help. In addition to many views (in, Beeswax uses Django Forms for server-side form validation (the forms are in, several features of the Mako templating engine (especially includes and functions), a separate server (implemented in Java), and significant JavaScript for user interaction.

Backend Development

This section goes into greater detail on useful features within the Hue environment.

User Management

Except for static content, request.user is always populated. It is a standard Django models.User object. If you were to set a breakpoint at the index() function in our calculator app, you will find:

>>> request.user
<User: test>
"Under the covers:" Django uses a notion called middleware that's called in between the request coming in and the view being executed. That's how request.user gets populated. There's also a middleware for Hue that makes sure that no pages are displayed unless the user is authenticated.


Configuration File

Hue uses a typed configuration system that reads configuration files (in an ini-style format). By default, Hue loads all *.ini files in the build/desktop/conf directory. The configuration files have the following format:

# This is a comment
[ app_name ]          # Same as your app's name
app_property = "Pink Floyd"

[[ section_a ]]         # The double brackets start a section under [ app_name ]
a_weight = 80         # that is useful for grouping
a_height = 180

[[ filesystems ]]       # Sections are also useful for making a list
[[[ cluster_1 ]]]       # All list members are sub-sections of the same type
namenode_host = localhost
# User may define more:
# [[[ cluster_2 ]]]
# namenode_host =

Configuration Variables

Your application's is special. It provides access to the configuration file (and even default configurations not specified in the file). Using the above example, your should define the following:

Your Hue application can automatically detect configuration problems and alert the admin. To take advantage of this feature, create a config_validator function in your

  def config_validator(user):
    config_validator(user) -> [(config_variable, error_msg)] or None
    Called by core check_config() view.
    res = [ ]
    if not REQUIRED_PROPERTY.get():
      res.append((REQUIRED_PROPERTY, "This variable must be set"))
    if MY_INT_PROPERTY.get() < 0:
      res.append((MY_INT_PROPERTY, "This must be a non-negative number"))
    return res
You should specify the help="..." argument to all configuration related objects in your The examples omit some for the sake of space. But you and your application's users can view all the configuration variables by doing:
    $ build/env/bin/hue config_help

Running "Helper Processes"

Some Hue applications need to run separate daemon processes on the side. For example, BeeswaxServer is responsible for managing Hive query states. The Hue "views" communicate with it through Thrift and shared states in the Django database.

Suppose your application needs a helper You need to register it by:

The next time Hue restarts, your my_daemon will start automatically. If your daemon program dies (exits with a non-zero exit code), Hue will restart it.

"Under the covers:" Threading. Hue, by default, runs CherryPy web server. If Hue is configured (and it may be, in the future) to use mod_wsgi under Apache httpd, then there would be multiple python processes serving the backend. This means that your Django application code should avoid depending on shared process state. Instead, place the stored state in a database or run a separate server.

Walk-through of a Django View

Django Flow

Django is an MVC framework, except that the controller is called a "view" and the "view" is called a "template". For an application developer, the essential flow to understand is how the "" file provides a mapping between URLs (expressed as a regular expression, optionally with captured parameters) and view functions. These view functions typically use their arguments (for example, the captured parameters) and their request object (which has, for example, the POST and GET parameters) to prepare dynamic content to be rendered using a template.

Templates: Django and Mako

In Hue, the typical pattern for rendering data through a template is:

from desktop.lib.django_util import render

def view_function(request):
  return render('view_function.mako', request, dict(greeting="hello"))

The render() function chooses a template engine (either Django or Mako) based on the extension of the template file (".html" or ".mako"). Mako templates are more powerful, in that they allow you to run arbitrary code blocks quite easily, and are more strict (some would say finicky); Django templates are simpler, but are less expressive.

Django Models

Django Models are Django's Object-Relational Mapping framework. If your application needs to store data (history, for example), models are a good way to do it.

From an abstraction perspective, it's common to imagine external services as "models". For example, the Job Browser treats the Hadoop JobTracker as a "model", even though there's no database involved.

Accessing Hadoop

It is common for applications to need to access the underlying HDFS. The request.fs object is a "file system" object that exposes operations that manipulate HDFS. It is pre-configured to access HDFS as the user that's currently logged in. Operations available on request.fs are similar to the file operations typically available in python. See for details; the list of functions available is as follows: chmod, chown, exists, isdir, isfile, listdir (and listdir_stats), mkdir, open (which exposes a file-like object with read(), write(), seek(), and tell() methods), remove, rmdir, rmtree, and stats.

Making Your Views Thread-safe

Hue works in any WSGI-compliant container web server. The current recommended deployment server is the built-in CherryPy server. The CherryPy server, which is multi-threaded, is invoked by runcpserver and is configured to start when Hue's supervisor script is used. Meanwhile, runserver and runserver_plus start a single-threaded testing server.

Because multiple threads may be accessing your views concurrently, your views should not use shared state. An exception is that it is acceptable to initialize some state when the module is first imported. If you must use shared state, use Python's threading.Lock.

Note that any module initialization may happen multiple times. Some WSGI containers (namely, Apache), will start multiple Unix processes, each with multiple threads. So, while you have to use locks to protect state within the process, there still may be multiple copies of this state.

For persistent global state, it is common to place the state in the database. If the state needs to be managed with application code, a common pattern to push state into a "helper process". For example, in the Job Designer, a helper process keeps track of the processes that have been launched. The Django views themselves are stateless, but they talk to this stateful helper process for updates. A similar approach is taken with updating metrics for the Beeswax application.

Authentication Backends

Hue exposes a configuration flag ("auth") to configure a custom authentication backend. See See for writing such a backend.

In addition to that, backends may support a manages_passwords_externally() method, returning True or False, to tell the user manager application whether or not changing passwords within Hue is possible.


Applications may define permission sets for different actions. Administrators can assign permissions to user groups in the UserAdmin application. To define custom permission sets, modify your app's to create a list of (identifier, description) tuples:

  ("delete", "Delete really important data"),
  ("email", "Send email to the entire company"),
  ("identifier", "Description of the permission")

Then you can use this decorator on your view functions to enforce permission:

@desktop.decorators.hue_permission_required("delete", "my_app_name")
def delete_financial_report(request):

Using and Installing Thrift

Right now, we check in the generated thrift code. To generate the code, you'll need the thrift binary version 0.9.0. Please download from

The modules using Thrift have some helper scripts like for regenerating the code from the interfaces.

Profiling Hue Apps

Hue has a profiling system built in, which can be used to analyze server-side performance of applications. To enable profiling::

$ build/env/bin/hue runprofileserver

Then, access the page that you want to profile. This will create files like /tmp/ The format for the file names is /tmp/

Hue uses the hotshot profiling library for instrumentation. The documentation for this library is located at:

You can use kcachegrind to view the profiled data graphically::

$ hotshot2calltree /tmp/ > /tmp/xyz.trace
$ kcachegrind /tmp/xyz.trace

More generally, you can programmatically inspect a trace::

import hotshot.stats
import sys

stats = hotshot.stats.load(sys.argv[1])
stats.sort_stats('cumulative', 'calls')

This script takes in a .prof file, and orders function calls by the cumulative time spent in that function, followed by the number of times the function was called, and then prints out the top 100 time-wasters. For information on the other stats available, take a look at this website:

Front-end Development

Developing applications for Hue requires a minimal amount of CSS (and potentially JavaScript) to use existing functionality. As covered above, creating an application for the Hue is a matter of creating a standard HTML application.

In a nutshell, front-end development in Hue is using Bootstrap and jQuery to layout your app and script the custom interactions.

CSS Styles

Hue uses Bootstrap version 2.0 CSS styles and layouts. They are highly reusable and flexible. Your app doesn't have to use these styles, but if you do, it'll save you some time and make your app look at home in Hue.

On top of the standard Bootstrap styles, Hue defines a small set of custom styles in desktop/core/static/css/jhue.css.

Defining Styles for Your Application

When you create your application it will provision a CSS file for you in the static/css directory. For organization purposes, your styles should go here (and any images you have should go in static/art). Your app's name will be a class that is assigned to the root of your app in the DOM. So if you created an app called "calculator" then every window you create for your app will have the class "calculator". Every style you define should be prefixed with this to prevent you from accidentally colliding with the framework style. Examples:

/* the right way: */
.calculator p {
  /* all my paragraphs should have a margin of 8px */
  margin: 8px;
  /* and a background from my art directory */
  background: url(../art/paragraph.gif);
/* the wrong way: */
p {
  /* woops; we're styling all the paragraphs on the page, affecting
     the common header! */
  margin: 8px;
  background: url(../art/paragraph.gif);


You should create an icon for your application that is a transparent png sized 24px by 24px. Your file should point to your icon via the ICON variable. The create_desktop_app command creates a default icon for you.

If you do not define an application icon, your application will not show up in the navigation bar.

Hue ships with Twitter Bootstrap and Font Awesome 3 ( so you have plenty of scalable icons to choose from. You can style your elements to use them like this (in your mako template):

<!-- show a trash icon in a link -->
<a href="#something"><i class="icon-trash"></i> Trash</a>

Adding Interactive Elements to Your UI

Hue by default loads these JavaScript components:

These are used by some Hue applications, but not loaded by default:

These standard components have their own online documentation, which we will not repeat here. They let you write interactive behaviors with little or no JavaScript.

Key Differences from Hue 1.x

Here are the key differences between the Hue 1.x front-end SDK and the later versions. In Hue 2.0 and beyond:

Including Other JavaScript Frameworks

It is possible to include other JavaScript frameworks to do your development. Simply include them to your application's pages. MooTools, Dojo, YUI, etc are all fine. Including them represents an additional burden for your users to download, and they also make it harder for us to support you, but it is your call.


How to update all the messages and compile them::

$ make locales

How to update and compile the messages of one app::

$ cd apps/beeswax
$ make compile-locale

How to create a new locale for an app::

$ cd $APP_ROOT/src/$APP_NAME/locale
$ $HUE_ROOT/build/env/bin/pybabel init -D django -i en_US.pot -d . -l fr

Debugging Tips and Tricks